Pecan Puffs

There’s a note saying these were Dad’s favorites. I’m not surprised. The man loved him some nuts.

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour
2 cups pecan meats
Powdered sugar for rolling cookies

To do:
Preheat oven to 300F
Cream butter and sugar. Add salt and vanilla and mix. Chop nut meats and add to flour. Then add to butter mixture. Roll into walnut sized balls. Bake 30-45 minutes. While warm, roll in powdered sugar.


No Bake Chocolate Cookies

We’ve hit the cookie section of the recipe box. It’s a big section. Mom didn’t make cookies all that often—just for holidays, pretty much. And that’s why she needed recipe cards. Things Mom made every week were memorized.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 TBS cocoa
1/4 cup oleo (margarine)
Pinch of salt
3 cups quick oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp vanilla
Optional: nuts

To do:
In a sauce pan, bring the first four ingredients to a boil. Remove from stove and mix in the other ingredients. Drop teaspoons full on wax paper.

I guess when they’re cool, they’re done.

Chicken or Turkey Casserole

We have here the ultimate Midwestern, mid-century recipe! It combines evaporated milk, chow mien noodles, and canned soup (two kinds!) with . . . oh, drat. Never mind; the cheese is missing. Still, it’s pretty classic.

1-2 heaping cups of boned, chopped chicken or turkey
1 small can (5 oz) evaporated milk
1 can chow mien noodles
1 can chicken rice soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
Small can mushrooms, drained
Optional: peas and peanuts, buttered crumbs

To do:
Preheat oven to 350F
Mix everything (except crumbs, if using). Bake 1 hour.

Cashew Nut Casserole

The recipe card attributes this to a Mrs. Carsons and says it serves 12. Mom looooooved her some cashews! I’m rather fond of them myself. I don’t really remember eating them in this dish, though. Behold the classic Midwestern ingredients: cream of mushroom soup and cheese!

3 large onions
2 lbs ground beef
1 large package small noodles, fried
2 cans mushroom soup
1 of those mushroom soup cans full of milk
1 lb sharp cheese
1 29 cent package of cashews (I suspect that they cost more now, 50 years on. I’d go for an 8 oz package.)

Preheat oven to 275F
Brown onions and beef in a skillet. Add meat mixture and put in casserole (the card doesn’t say anything about when to add the soup, so I’d suggest mixing it with the meat and onions at this point). Cover with grated cheese. Put can of milk in. Bake at least 3/4 hour. Sprinkle noodles and nuts over the top. Bake 1/2 hour more.

Cheese Strata

Oh, Mom, why did you never make this when I was around? Olives aside, it looks like a splendid brunch food. Of course, we really didn’t brunch that much. Anyway, this one I may road test myself.

10 slices bread, crust removed, broken or cubed
6 eggs
3 cups milk.
2 TSP chopped parsley
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheese
3 TBS finely chopped onion
Optional: chopped olives, diced ham, chopped bacon

To do:
Beat eggs, milk, and seasonings. Stir in bread cubes, cheese, and onion. (Also ham and/or bacon, I imagine.) Pour into ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Refridgerate (covered) overnight. Preheat oven to 325F. If you want to add olives, sprinkle them on top at this time. Bake for one hour.

Easy Bake Spaghetti

Mom attributed this recipe to Mrs. Snider. I don’t remember ever eating it, but Mom went into a bit of a low fat phase when I was pretty young. Bacon drippings don’t play well with a low fat diet.

3 TBS bacon drippings or fat
2 coarsely chopped, peeled onions
1 peeled garlic clove
1/2 lb ground chuck beef
1.5 tsp salt
3.5 cups canned tomatoes
1/8 tsp pepper (Mom was anti-pepper; this could probably be increased.)
1 tsp chili powder (I’d likewise boost this by 50-100%.)
8 oz dried spaghetti
1 cup water
1 cup grated process Am. cheddar cheese (no idea what “process Am. Cheddar cheese” is–I’d go with mozzarella.)

To do:
Preheat oven to 325F
Heat drippings or fat in large skillet. Add onions and garlic. Cook slowly for 5 minutes. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has browned. Stir next four ingredients, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Break the spaghetti in half and add half of it to the bottom of a 2 quart casserole. [It says to discard the garlic, but that sounds challenging and unnecessary. Do as you will.] Add the water to the sauce and pour half over the spaghetti. Sprinkle half the cheese over the sauce. Put the remaining spaghetti on top of the cheese. Put the rest of the sauce on top of the spaghetti and top with the cheese. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Baked Beans

This recipe card has “Janet Boyd” in one corner. Not someone I remember, but I do remember Mom making baked beans.

Water for soaking beans
1 lb navy beans
1 cup milk
1 tbs dried mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
Rind from 1/2 lb salt pork

To do:
Soak beans overnight.
Drain beans, add fresh water and boil until soft. (Time unspecified on card. Maybe 30 minutes?)
Preheat oven to 350F (the card just says “bake,” but this is a reasonable guess).
Drain most of the water from the beans and add everything else except the pork rind. Chop the pork rind into small pieces and parboil for 10 minutes. Add to the beans et al. Mix everything, put into casserole dish, and bake for two hours.

Meat-Bean Casserole

Maybe we had this? It looks like a way to stretch beef, so it may be a relic of Grandma Maisy’s Depression Era cooking. It’s doesn’t look half bad. I’d probably put it over rice or noodles.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbs. salt
1 small can tomatoes
1 small can pork and beans
black pepper to taste
2 tbs. fat/oil

To do:
Heat oven to 350F.
Saute onions in fat. Add meat. Stir until meat browns. Add salt, pepper, tomatoes, and beans. Mix together and bake in casserole, 30 minutes.

Orange Cake

Another one that I don’t remember Mom ever making, although she use to say she loved orange cake.

1/2 cup shortening
1.5 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 orange
1 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup nuts)
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

To do:
Heat oven to 350F (the recipe card says “moderate oven,” so this is a reasonable assumption).
Cream together 1 cup sugar, salt, and shortening. Squeeze juice out of orange and add to 1/2 cup sugar. Set the orange juice/sugar mixture aside. Grind the rest of the orange together with raisins or raisins and nuts. Combine with sugar/shortening mixture. Add eggs, sour milk, baking soda, flour, and baking powder. Mix and pour into loaf pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove when baked and let it cool. Put sugar/juice mixture on the top.

Cheese Fondue

Every New Years Eve my mom use to make cheese fondue. We’d eat it with toasted bread and olives, and later watch one of the New Year broadcasts. Last New Years Eve I was feeling nostalgic, so I dug up Mom’s recipe card and made it for a few of my friends. And now, 10 months later, I was in the process of cleaning my apartment and ran across the card, which hadn’t made it back into the recipe box. 

Cheese Fondue


0.25 cup butter
0.25 cup flour
0.5 tsp salt
0.125 tsp white pepper
6 cups (46 oz) gruyere cheese, shredded
3 cups milk
2 tbs white grape juice (or, if you’re not a tea totaller like Mom, a splash of white wine)

 To do:

Melt butter in chafing dish over hot water. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth and thickened. Add shredded cheese. Stir slowly 30 or 40 minutes or until cheese is well blended. (Mom’s directions say to stir in one direction, but I don’t know why. I did fine just stirring it however.) Just before serving, add wine and stir steadily in one direction until mixture is velvety. Serve accompanied by toasted bread squares.